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tv   Special Report With Bret Baier  FOX News  August 3, 2009 6:00pm-6:16pm EDT

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republic, to remain forceful but peaceful. from new york, good night, america. [captioning made possible by fox news channel] captioned by the national captioning institute bret: next on "special report" it was the centerpiece of his campaign but now president obama has to clarify suggestions from his own people that he might break his pom miss not to raise taxes on the middle class. the president is trying to raise more money for one government program that has been a big hit. an update on cash for clunkers. consumers venting over healthcare reform, and politicians are taking notice, and a secret meeting in europe to map out strategy for and increasingly bloody conflict in afghanistan. all that, plus the fox all-stars, right here, right now. welcome for washington. i'm bret baier. the white house was on spin cycle today, trying to walk back weekend comments that led
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some to believe that the president was waffling on his pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. senior white house correspondent major garrett on a promise that, even for the strongest president, can turn out to be political kryptonnite. i can make a firm pledge under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. >> it was one of candidate obama's most durable cheer magnets during the campaign, his promise to shield the middle class from higher taxes. he said it often and said it often in anti-tax new hampshire. >> not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains' taxes, not any of your taxes. >> fast forward to the dog days of record deficit and sticker shock and continued job losses and dwindling ideas on taxing the wealthy. amid this, two senior economic advisors opened the door to higher taxes on the middle class.
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>> again, we're not at the point yet where we're going to make a judgment about what it is going to take. >> you can't rule it out. >> i think what the country needs to do is understand that we have to do what it takes. >> a priority right now, and it is never a good idea to absolutely rule things out no matter what. >> the president's spokesman tried to clean up the messy conflict between campaigning and governing. >> i'm reiterating the president's clear commitment in the clearest terms possible, that he's not raising taxes on those who make less than $250,000 a year. republicans said the white house advisors were called on the carpet and mocked gibbs's reversal. >> they were taken to the wood shed and mr. gibbs was sent out to say oh, no, we're not going to raise taxes on middle income, but mr. president, that's misleading, at best, to the american people. you cannot do all of the things the president wants to do without raising taxes and
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inevitably that will be on the middle class. >> gibbs called geithner's and summers' statements a hypothetical back and forth. the president discussed the off-kilter message with both in the oval office this morning. gibbs denied either was taken to the wood shed. >> i don't know how much more clear about his commitment can i be. >> then why didn't geithner and summers say it? >> they left it to me. >> also left to gibbs was reminding voters that the $15 cuts for a middle class family and he also said friday's jobless report will tabulate another several hundred thousand jobs lost that are needed to stimulate the u.s. economy. bret: the administration is leaning hard on the senate to put more money into the cash for clunkers program. it warned today that if the senate fails to act, the popular incentive will run out of gas within days. white house correspondent
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wendell goler has the story. >> as ford announced its first monthly sales increase since the start of the recession, the cash for clunkers program, credited with helping the boost, was running on fumes and auto dealers were on the warpath. >> i think dealers are very angry. it should be obvious to a lot of money, there have been a lot of issues with the current administration. >> the white house says without senate approval of a house bill adding $2 billion in clunker funding, it can only guarantee rebates for a few more days. >> if it doesn't happen this week, it's unlikely that we will make it to the weekend with a program that can continue. >> republicans argued misreading the initial popularity in the clunkers' program means extending it might cost more than lawmakers expect. >> when the administration comes bearing estimates, it's not a bad idea to look for a second opinion. all the more so if they say they're in a hurry r >> they say the same argument applies to healthcare reform, and the president's trillion
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dollar proposal fighting for its life, harry reid was reluctant to schedule a clunkers vote that might cause problems for the health reform. supporters say dealers are selling more cars, and the big 3 have upped their market share and the new cars use a lot less gas. >> the initial analysis of a group of the applications shows that the transactions were generating a 61% increase in fuel economy. >> that means less dependence on foreign oil and less greenhouse gas emissions but it's still too much spending for some. >> my children and grandchildren are going to have to pay for these cars and we're helping auto dealers while there are thousand of other small businesses get that are not getting the help. >> in michigan, where 1/5 of the jobs connected to the auto industry, governor granholm admits her state is getting a disproportionate boost. >> i think it's it's sweet justice. >> like today, the prospects
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of the clunker program got better when california democratic senator dieian feinstein and maine's susan collins announced the mileage improvements are better than skeptics expected and leaders of both parties want to keep the program. all the democrats in the senate will come here tomorrow and look for ways to do that in a meeting with president obama. bret: more on this with the panel. wendell goler live on the north lawn. general motors says 6,000 blue collar workers have taken the latest round of early retirement and buyout offers. that still leaves the company short of its goal, meaning more layoffs are likely. g.m. wants to cut 7,400 more workers by the end of the year. spending on home construction rose by 3/4 of a point. it is the second increase in three months. manufacturing activity declined at the slowest rate since last august. production is at its highest level in more than two years, and tftion a big day on wall street.
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the dow jumped almost 115 points. the s&p rose 15 and change and the nasdaq picked up just over 3o republican turned democratic senator arlen specter says august is shaping up to be a battle ground month for healthcare reform. he should know. after enduring and an tague nis tick crowd at a weekend town hall meeting. shannon bream reports on the public venting over changes it may not want. >> no healthcare! >> with skeptical americans across the country, they are pushing back. they are giving owe officials like kathleen sebelius and arlen specter an earful. >> you want us to believe that a government that can't even run a cash for clunkers program is going to run 1/7 of >> our u.s. economy? no, sir! no, sir! >> democrats are likely to face more of the same over the next few weeks.
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house members headed home for recess with a letter from leadership asking them to hold more of these meetings telling them winning the debate will require an aggressive multi-front ev effort to control the message and the memo outlines it. "our message is simple and counters the republican government takeover message. hold the insurance companies accountable." but from the sound of this angry crowd in austin, texas, they were more interested in holding democratic congressman lloyd dawson accountable. the evidence of shifting ant merely anecdotal. a rasmussen poll shows that there is a major change in how americans feel about the healthcare system. one year ago 37% said it was poor with only 29% calling it good or excellent. those figures have flipped. 48% view it as good or excellent, up 20 points and
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only 19% ate the system poor. with just a few days left before its recess, the bipartisan gang of six was back in action monday trying to negotiate a deal. in the meantime, republicans like senator cornyn say they continue to hear from worried constituents and are not at all surprised by their decision to fight back. >> they're scared and angry. many of them are slowing up at town hall meetings and expressing their views, and more power to 'em. we may not always like it, but people do have their right to express their views. >> following today's gang of six meeting, republican senator owe limb pia snow said that they're working hard to keep to the september 15 deadline for getting the bill done, set by max baucus. they will use video teleconferencing if they have to to get something done through the recess but one of the other republicans in the gang said today, quote, he will not adhere to an artificial deadline." bret.
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bret: shannon bream live on the hill. the white house leans on the broadcast networks to make room for the president and top defense officials hurdle in in secret to decide what to do in afghanistan.
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>> white house press secretary robert gibbs says no decisions have been made about bringing detainees from guantanomo bay to special facility inside the u.s. president obama ordered gitmo to be closed by january 22. the administration is looking at several sites including a military penitentiary at a soon to be closed state prison in michigan and ft. leavenworth, kansas. republican senator brownback of kansas anticipates bipartisan opposition. >> the leadership in the congress about what the leader options are, because it may have been a unanimous vote of the united states senate not to move the detainees unless you work with the local
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community. bret: we have new details tonight on what the u.s. commander in afghanistan will ask for later this month when he delivers his status report to the defense secretary. national security correspondent jennifer griffin reports it comes during a very difficult period for allied forces fighting the taliban. >> its was the deadliest month in afghanistan for u.s. troops since the start of the war. 74 nato troops killed in july. 43 of them were americans. all eyes now are on general stan mccrystal, who was given 60 days to review the situation on the ground in afghanistan after taking over as the top u.s. commander there. defense secretary robert gates and admiral mike mullen asked mcchrystal to meet them for a sec ket face to face this week at a u.s. military base 12 miles north of nato headquarters in belgium. they wanted an interim report.
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chief david petraeus also through in. august 14, mcchrystal will deliver his strategy to the head of nato and gates and the assessment will reportedly involve a request for more u.s. troops. >> from everything i have seen, it looks like the afghan army has to be increased and significantly, and that's going to be a huge cost, and i -- it appears as if we need more troops. >> but how many, and will the president agree? the issue is politically sensitive in washington where the new administration worries afghanistan will become president obama's quagmire. >> much like iraq, we cannot be there forever. afghans are going to have to provide a measure of their own security, much as we're asking iraqis to do, and that they're doing in their own country. >> sources tell fox general mcchrystal will present three options for troop increase. a small option of 1 to 2 big
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grades around 7,000 troops, a medium increase of several brigades and a larger option. leaked details of the report suggest mccrystal wants to nearly double the size of the afghan army to about 240,000 troops. nato's new secretary general, who took office today, called on afghans to take the lead for their own security. >> let no taliban propaganda say they are running for the exits, because they are not. >> troops still don't have the right vehicles. mcchrystal will ask for more protection as part of his review. at the pentagon, jennifer griffin, fox news. bret: president obama today thanked the marines who found the remains of navy pilot michael scott speicher, the first casualty of the gulf war in
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